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The award-winning Phase Change Matters blog tracks the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. E-mail tips and comments to Ben Welter, communications director at Entropy Solutions. Follow the blog on Twitter at @PureTemp. Subscribe to the weekly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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PCM briefing: NASA testing PCM heat exchanger for Orion spacecraft; 'too much' renewable energy in Texas, California

Ben Welter - Wednesday, April 13, 2016


NASA has partnered with the International Space Station to test the next generation of phase change material heat exchangers for use aboard the Orion spacecraft. The PCM HX helps maintain a comfortable environment by absorbing and ejecting excess heat. The test platform pumps a mix of propylene glycol and water through the PCM HX at temperatures between -10º and 30º Celsius. The wax PCM was developed by UTC Aerospace Systems.

ARPA-E is looking for input on the development of low-cost occupancy sensors to help minimize the energy used to heat and cool buildings.

• A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that many developing nations that now rely on a "high share of renewable energy in their power mix" are increasingly turning to fossil fuels to meet growing demand for cheap electricity.

• The world's renewable energy capacity grew by a record 152 gigawatts in 2015, or about 8.3 percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Solar capacity grew by 47 gigawatts, or 26 percent, as the cost of PV panels continued to fall.

• Appearing at last month's Solar Heating and Cooling Workshop in Melbourne, Frank Bruno, associate research professor at the University of South Australia, said phase change material thermal storage is cheaper than batteries for solar storage, costing around $200 (AUD) per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, compared to $1,500/kWh for batteries.

Installer magazine takes a close look at Viessmann's Ice Store home heating and cooling system.

• A provocative headline in the MIT Technology Review last week: "Texas and California Have Too Much Renewable Energy." The rapid growth of wind and solar, with no large-scale storage in place, has made a mess of energy prices in those states.

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